Spock didn’t understand humans. Their behaviour was illogical. They kept attempting to do the same thing hoping for a different outcome.
When he had first been asked to program a simulation that could not be won, he had failed to see the point. Why should a cadet take a test he could not pass? He had voiced his thoughts and the admiralty had explained their intentions. Every Star Fleet officer should know what the prospect of certain failure including their own death and that of their crew felt like. To prepare them for the possibility of facing a no-win situation on a mission.
Spock had understood the reasoning although it had still seemed peculiar. Didn’t knowing it was a test ruin the attempted effect? But he had programmed the simulation and for four years every cadet had failed the Kobayashi Maru test. Once.
Then, one day, he had read over the list of applicants for the test as he was required to do, and a name had caught his attention. James Tiberius Kirk. Not only was the surname familiar to him – the unexplained and sudden destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin was one of the central points in recent Federation history. But further than that had he read that particular name before. On a list of applicants for the Kobayashi Maru test. It was highly peculiar.
Concerned, his usually impeccable memory was failing him, Spock had looked up the old lists. And indeed, he had found the name. James Tiberius Kirk, third year cadet on the Command Track, had taken the test three weeks and two days prior. Spock had been slightly astonished but had not thought more of it.
He didn’t partake in gossip but he couldn’t avoid occasionally overhearing information about different people on Campus. Apparently, Cadet Kirk was a known troublemaker, who usually avoided punishment by charming his prosecutors, getting compassion for his personal history and having the instructors on his side due to his exceptionally good marks. Spock hadn’t encountered Kirk before and neither was he eager to but the prospect didn’t concern him either. He had been told he was an objective judge and was certain that he, should the Cadet have any mischievous intentions, would ascertain just repercussions for them.
But nothing had happened. Cadet Kirk had taken the test and failed it again, without any reaction beyond a short nod when he had officially been told the results.
Spock had discarded the incident as the inexplicable behaviour of a human individual already known for unorthodox actions.
And then he had read the name for a third time.
Applicants for the Kobayashi Maru Simulation
Kirk, James Tiberius
Spock usually didn’t watch the test being taken. He was responsible for programming it, the instructors were responsible for overseeing it. But this time he had decided to be present.
Nyota had laughed when she had heard of it, calling him a curious pedant, but he had corrected her. Had told her it wasn’t curiosity but fascination for the race he shared half his genetic material with that had led to his decision. And he had asked her what was wrong with being precise, when in science precision was necessary to get any usable results. She had laughed again and shaken her head, leaving him confused.
Now she was sitting below him in the simulation chamber and informed Cadet Kirk of the received distress signal form the stranded Federation vessel U.S.S. Kobayashi Maru and the orders to rescue it. The only reaction she got from Cadet Kirk was him correcting her form of addressing him. Although Spock highly valued an intact hierarchy, he felt that Cadet Kirk was missing the point here. And on purpose, it seemed.
Next was an to Spock unknown Cadet stating there were signs of imminent attack by two Klingon vessels. Spock checked on his PADD. Leonard McCoy, MD. The name was familiar to him, he had heard McCoy was a close associate of Cadet Kirk’s although training on a different Track.
The Cadet’s reaction had Spock raise an eyebrow. He was fairly certain that never before had any Star Fleet officer in full possession of his mental health commented on such an information with “That’s okay, don’t worry about it.” He felt his suspicion confirmed when one of the Test Administrators stated the same confusion.
Below, the simulated attack began, but all Cadet Kirk did was alerting Medical Bay with orders hinting on him assuming a full rescue of the ship in peril. He consistently ignored warnings by other crew members and began eating an apple, after Cadet McCoy informed him that their shields were beginning to fail. Asked, if they should return fire, Kirk declined.
By now, Spock was at a complete loss as to what the Cadet was attempting. It seemed his only goal was to mock everyone present and cost them time. Spock was debating to interrupt the simulation when suddenly all monitors failed before coming back to life a moment later. In the simulation chamber confusion was evident – only Cadet Kirk was still sitting calmly in his chair -, as was on the observation gallery. Spock noticed several officers and Administrators talking over one another, asking what was happening. He shut them out, their actions weren’t constructive.
A suspicion formed in his head and was strengthened when Cadet Kirk suddenly ordered to finally start returning fire and showed obvious signs of knowing that the enemy’s shields were down when Cadet McCoy tried to tell him they were still up.
Only, it was impossible. Evidence suggested a tampering with the programming, a change in the source code. Which would have been an option had not Spock himself written the simulation and checked the programming shortly before Cadet Kirk had started the test for the third time. There had been neither time nor opportunity to alter the test’s conditions as was obviously the case.
Below, Cadet Kirk stated the outcome of the mission, seeming extraordinarily self-confident. One of the Test Administrators turned towards Spock.
“How the hell did that kid beat your test?”
“I do not know”, was all Spock could answer.
It seemed his doubtlessness about being able to withstand any possible antics of Cadet James Tiberius Kirk had been rather premature.